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Published: Saturday, 3/23/2013

St. Ursula’s ‘famous’ voices earn a bid to Carnegie Hall

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
St. Ursula Academy choir members assemble in the school's chapel on Friday where they prayed for a safe trip to New York City and to perform at their best in the competition at Carnegie Hall. The choir was treated to a stellar send-off reserved for competitors representing the all-girls' high school. St. Ursula Academy choir members assemble in the school's chapel on Friday where they prayed for a safe trip to New York City and to perform at their best in the competition at Carnegie Hall. The choir was treated to a stellar send-off reserved for competitors representing the all-girls' high school.
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They got a pep talk. They got high-fives, pats of encouragement, and cheers from most of the 640-member student body waiting outside classrooms to root ’em on.

The send-off inside St. Ursula Academy on Friday was akin to what star athletes get when they jog through hallways before heading off to a high-profile sporting event, except it wasn’t about athletics. The recipients of the student body’s goodwill were 22 members of the academy’s choir, who were scheduled to board a bus for New York at 11 Friday night. If all goes as planned, they will sing Monday night in a venue they thought was only possible in their dreams: Carnegie Hall.

“It’s above and beyond what any of us think we could be doing,” Gabrielle Mancy, a 17-year-old senior, beamed. She later added she expects it to be an “out-of-body experience.”

The girls will be part of the highly competitive American High School Honors Performance Series. They got an invitation based on an audition tape submitted months ago by their choir director, Wen Chin Liu.

Event organizers invited the 22 St. Ursula girls to be among 120 teens who will comprise a national festival chorus for Monday's two-hour concert. The chorus they are in will perform for about 30 minutes of it. Practice began in August, Ms. Liu said.

The experience allows them to rehearse under master conductors and perform before invited representatives of collegiate and professional music programs. Best of all, they can tell their friends their hard work paid off with a performance at Carnegie Hall.

“This is one of those moments you will always remember about St. Ursula. You are all famous now,” Nichole Flores, the academy’s principal, told them during their debriefing in a chapel, during which the choir members formed a circle and joined hands in prayer.

Two other seniors, Emily Win, 18, and Katie Dubielak, 17, also said the opportunity seems surreal. “I can’t even grasp the concept. It’s just such a great event,” said Miss Win, who plans to major in music in college.

Katie said she can’t get over the idea of being on the same stage where many of the world’s “legends and masters of music” stood before her.

“It’s just going to be a great feeling being in the same room they’ve been,” she said.

The girls are the first from St. Ursula to get such an invitation. They are in New York until Tuesday. Plans call for them to catch a Broadway show and see a few sights while there. Two hours before their concert begins, they will be treated to dinner and a reception at the New York Athletic Club, where they are scheduled to meet St. Ursula grads living in New York.

“We are incredibly proud of these girls and the efforts they’ve made,” said Mary Werner, academy president, who is accompanying them with her husband, Marty. “I think it’s going to be the experience of a lifetime.”

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.



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